Combating Poverty and Inequality (Beyond 2015 Brief No. 1)

UNRISD’s “Beyond 2015” Briefs contribute research-based insight and analysis to the dialogue around the post–MDG development agenda. They highlight key information in a concise format, with references to further in-depth reading, useful to policy makers, activists and academics alike.


Brain Drain and Inequality Across Nations

This paper reviews what is known to date about the magnitude of the brain drain from developing to developed countries, its determinants and the way it affects the well-being of those left behind. First, I present alternative measures of the brain drain and characterize its evolution over the last 25 years. Then, I review the theoretical and empirical literature. Although the brain drain is a major source of concern for origin countries, it also induces positive effects through various channels such as remittances, return migration, diaspora externalities, quality of governance and increasing return to education. Whilst many scientists and international institutions praise the unambiguous benefits of unskilled migration for developing countries, my analysis suggests that a limited but positive skilled emigration rate (say between 5 and 10 percent) can also be good for development. Nevertheless, the current spatial distribution of the brain drain is such that many poor countries are well above this level, such as sub-Saharan Africanand Central American countries.


Inequality Of Opportunity For Income In Five Countries Of Africa

This paper examines for the first time inequality of opportunity for income in Africa, by analyzing large-sample surveys, all providing information on individuals’ parental background, in five comparable Sub-Saharan countries: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Guinea, Madagascar and Uganda.. Decompositions reveal that the two former British colonies (Ghana and Uganda) share a much higher intergenerational educational and occupational mobility than the three former French colonies. Further, Ghana distinguishes itself from the four other countries, because of the combination of widespread secondary schooling, low returns to education and low income dualism against agriculture. Nevertheless, it displays marked regional inequality insofar as being born in the Northern part of this country produces a significant restriction of income opportunities


Poverty, Inequality and The Nature Of Economic Growth In South Africa

The post-1994 period in the South African economy is characterized, perhaps most powerfully, by the fact that the economy recorded one of its longest periods of positive economic growth in the country’s history. One of the more vexing issues within the economic policy terrain in post-apartheid South Africa though, has been the impact of this consistently positive growth performance on social welfare. Many observers have highlighted the potentially harmful consequences of persistently high levels of poverty and particularly, economic inequality on the quality and sustainability of democracy. The evidence suggests, at best, six key trends which are noteworthy in terms of observing changes and challenges in South Africa’s second decade of democracy. Firstly, it is clear that both absolute and relative levels of poverty have fallen for African- and female-headed households. And it is a result invariant to the choice of poverty line. Secondly though, we continue to show that race and gender remain overwhelming determinants of this poverty profile. Thirdly, the trends in income inequality suggest that one of the world’s most unequal societies has quite possibly become the most unequal.


Poverty, inequality and human development in a post apartheid South Africa

This paper presents and analyses the estimated indices of human development and poverty in a democratic South Africa (SA). Given the history and the socio-economic realities, as part of the legacy of the political history of SA, it is necessary to examine the HDI and the Human Poverty Index (HPI-1) by population groups and provinces for SA. This paper starts by describing the data used to estimate the indices. It then explains the methodology applied to estimate the various standard human development indices, which is then followed by a detailed review of all the estimates used to calculate the indices for South Africa in particular. Then the composite estimates of the indices and the findings are discussed. Prior to concluding remarks, tentative views on policy responses are presented.


Improving spatial planning in South African district municipalities: Towards inclusive growth and development

Inefficient apartheid spatial planning has proved difficult to address in the democratic era in South Africa. The post-apartheid government has failed to direct settlement planning and land use in a manner that ensures access to economic opportunities, especially for the poor. The reasons are manifold, but principally, it is the failure of the state to back its intentions in respect of addressing the apartheid geography with resources. The case in point is the location of government-provided low cost housing. These tend to be located much further away, driven largely by the availability of cheap land and the commitment to provide huge numbers of housing to address what has become known as ‘the housing backlog’. In order to address poverty and inequality, there is an urgent need to address spatial inefficiencies informed by a deep understanding of the factors at play.


African Migration, Global Inequalities, and Human Rights: Connecting the Dots

Managing migration and protecting migrants is too limited an agenda. Activists and policymakers must address these inequalities directly to ensure that people can pursue their fundamental human rights whether they move or stay. It is not enough to measure development only in terms of progress at the national level: development must also be measured in terms of reductions in the gross levels of inequality that now determine differential rights on the basis of accident of birth.


Poverty and Inequality Dynamics in South Africa: Post-apartheid Developments in the Light of the Long-Run Legacy

South Africa has a long and infamous history of high inequality with an overbearing racial footprint to this inequality. Many have seen the emergence and persistence of this inequality to be the major unifying theme of the country’s twentieth century economic history. Certainly, this is the key context to understanding why the issue of inequality has continued to dominate the  post-apartheid landscape. There are two indicators of the post-apartheid political economy that have attracted special attention in this regard. The first is whether the evolving character of the post-apartheid economy and the policy efforts of the post-apartheid government have been able to start to lower these very high aggregate levels of inequality. Then, there is the related question of the composition of this inequality; specifically, whether the blunt racial footprint undergirding this inequality would start to grey and be replaced by new social strata and more subtle socio economic dynamics


Generating Extreme Inequality: Schooling, Earnings, and Intergenerational Transmission of Human Capital in South Africa and Brazil

Large household surveys are used to analyze links between schooling inequality and earnings inequality in Brazil and South Africa, countries which have long had among the highest levels of income inequality in the world. Although the countries have similar earnings inequality, South Africa has much lower inequality in schooling. The contribution of schooling to earnings inequality is very similar in the two countries, however, due to the convex relationship between schooling and earnings. If the countries traded schooling distributions or returns to schooling there would be little effect on earnings inequality. Both countries demonstrate strong relationships between parents’ schooling and children’s schooling, a key component of the intergenerational transmission of inequality. Significantly, however, the penalty for having poorly educated parents is much smaller in South Africa. The results suggest that even large improvements in schooling may be associated with inertia in earnings inequality in developing countries


The Post-Apartheid Evolution Of earnings Inequality In South Africa,1995-2004

This paper examines the trend in post-Apartheid earnings inequality in South Africa. By combining data sets, the paper is able to analyze the trend of the whole periods 1995-2004. Earnings inequality rose sharply during 1995-1999 and then declined marginally, but remained high, during 2000-2004. A dramatic rise in unemployment was the driving force in exacerbating earning inequality in the 1990s.  Unemployment begun to level off in 2000s but remained at a high rate. An unprecedented influx of new entrants into the formal labor market in the 1990s put downward pressure on average real wages, affecting workers both in the middle of the distribution and towards the bottom.


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